Dear VBSDS Families,
As we prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday, it is prudent for us to reflect gratitude and offer thanks to our remarkable teachers and staff, to the community that holds us together, and to our children, who despite the restraints of this crisis, exhibit radiance, hope, and joy.
As we read the headlines about COVID-19 spreading so intensely and quickly across our state and country, it is time for us to come together as a community and remember the Jewish value of shmirat ha’briyut, putting the health of the community above all else. Now is NOT the time for us to let our guards down. Together, we must be mindful of our behavior, of one another, and of our entire community. This pandemic has taught us that each day and each choice affects not only our own families, but the collective.
With an increase in LA County cases and the transition to on campus learning for K-2nd grade students, positive cases are inevitable. In addition, the weather is cooler, which means we are moving more activities indoors. We are also entering cold and flu season. There is no reason to believe that our community will be immune to the trends that our city, state and nation are experiencing.
In VBS Day School’s commitment to transparency, emet, as these trends continue, you will hear from us frequently. With over 110 VBS ECC students and 80 Day School students on campus, and hundreds of employees between the Temple and schools, we have a lot at stake! We MUST listen to all LA County Department of Public Health (LACDPH) recommendations and guidelines. These guidelines are only effective if we model them together, united in mission and purpose.
While nearly nine months of restrictions have led to fatigue and lenience in some households, it is time for us to make a pledge to one another to be vigilant. The LA County Public Health Director recently shared, “As a community and as individuals, we’re going to need to be laser-focused on reducing transmission; to say many lives are at stake is not an exaggeration.” Every family assesses risk differently, and every family makes different choices. As we discussed in our brit, our community commitment to one another, it is imperative that every family fully partner with our school in its mission of shmirat ha’briyut. This is what a commitment to community wellbeing looks like in action:
- As per LACDPH small gathering guidelines, no more than three families should be together at a time. Any such gatherings should be outside, masked and physically distanced. As the weather gets colder, please do not be tempted to move these gatherings indoors.
- Families should NOT host in person parties (even small ones) or get together for playdates. Gatherings like these are the quickest ways to spread the virus.
- When you leave your home, masks should be worn at all times.
- Please be mindful of VBS’ travel policy when it comes to travel by plane and/or train. Click HERE to review the full document.
- We recommend that you NOT carpool to school with those outside of your household. If you absolutely must, please ensure that everyone in the car is masked and that windows are down or outside air is pumped in via the A/C system. In addition, children of separate households should not sit in the same row.
As case numbers increase, it is possible that an LA County “Safer at Home” order may be issued once again. The only way to help avoid this is for us to take all of our actions very seriously.
Baseline COVID-19 tests will be required for on campus learners following winter break. For your convenience, VBSDS will offer an on site testing day. For a few days immediately following winter break, all students will learn virtually until the test results are received by our school. We believe that this process is the best way to reduce risk for our families, employees, and students. More information and specifics will be shared soon. It is imperative to understand that testing does NOT prevent people from transmitting and acquiring COVID-19. It is not a substitute for distancing from people outside of your household, wearing face coverings, hand washing and avoiding crowds. A negative COVID-19 test does not grant permission to disregard safety protocols.
With Thanksgiving and Hanukkah fast-approaching, we hope that you will be extremely mindful of this very serious commitment to community health. Together, we truly do have the power to slow the spread. If you have any questions about these community expectations, please do not hesitate to reach out to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
United as one VBSDS community, I know that we can serve as models for others and practice behavior that makes us all proud.
Rabbi Deborah Schuldenfrei
Head of School